By day, All Points West was a nice festival with some strong sets. Andrew Bird played to an adoring audience, mixing old favorites (“Fake Palindromes,” “Plasticities,” “Tables and Chairs”) with a couple new songs in a set right around 75 minutes. Despite missing alt-country chanteuse Neko Case, the New Pornographers’ set sounded great, at least what I saw of it did. I caught the first four songs of Carl Newman and Co. before heading over to Grizzly Bear. It took me a little while to get into their set. I’m not sure their music is ideal for the late afternoon time slot, but their almost haunting melodies are still rolling around in my head, and by the end of their shortened 45 minute set I was pretty impressed.
But all the day music was really just a lead up to the main event, and All Points West made it seem like Triple A vs. the Majors. At most festivals I’ve been to, the headliner plays the biggest stage in the last time slot, but that’s generally what sets them apart. Last night Radiohead took to the main stage with a series of long metal pendants hanging from the rafters. The pendants worked in conjunction with an unbelievable light show, at times appearing like prison bars, green rain, candles, and rainbow strobe lights. Radiohead also had the ace video setup, with cameras trained on all members of the band projected up on the jumbo screen in washed out sepia tones.
Even without the A/V and special effects the band would have shined. There’s really no question that Radiohead is in the upper echelon of live bands playing today. Last night they did not disappoint. In fact, for my money, I think they blew away their Bonnaroo set from 2006. Thom Yorke and co. were in top form, playing for well over two hours, and playing cuts from across their catalog. The sound was crystaline clear and I couldn’t help but wonder if lower Manhattan, the festival’s dramatic backdrop, was being treated to the same fantastic show that I was.